CHELTENHAM on Wednesday confirmed that this season's festival will include an extra race with a Grade 2 2m4f novice chase the latest addition to the sport's premier fixture.

The contest, to be sponsored by existing festival backer Jewson, will open Thursday's action, taking the place of the 2m4f novice handicap chase, previously sponsored by Jewson, that will now become Tuesday's seventh race under the banner of the Centenary Novices' Handicap Chase.

As was the case last season, Thursday's card will also host a seventh race thanks to the presence of a charity Flat event.

Cheltenham’s director of racing, Simon Claisse, said: "We have always maintained that we would extend the number of races at the festival if the right contest could be identified which would not diminish the overall quality of the meeting, and would get the support of trainers, owners and breeders.

"A weight-for-age novice chase over two and a half miles has been at the top of the list for some time and we have agreed with the British Horseracing Authority that it will be introduced in 2011.
Gillespie

Edward Gillespie: no decision on ending the festival on a Saturday

"An additional race at the festival is good news for the industry. It gives another winning opportunity for jockeys, trainers, owners and stable staff; it gives our customers at Cheltenham better value and it is bound to produce more betting turnover, which means more levy."

Speaking at the launch of the track's 2010-2011 season, Cheltenham managing director Edward Gillespie stated that no decision had been taken on ending the 2012 festival on a Saturday.
Claisse

Simon Claisse at the second-last fence, which has been moved

However, the controversial second-last fence on the Old Course has now been moved into the straight.

Claisse explained: "We moved fence 14, the second-last, on the Old Course as the fence continued to have a significantly high and unacceptable faller rate."

Paddy Brennan was one of a number of jockeys who took part in a schooling session over the new fence on Monday morning, and he said: "The ground has never been better and the new fence could not be in a better place. You will still get fallers as it is the second-last but they won’t be so severe."

Prize-money at next year's festival totals £3.38 million, a decrease of £100,000, although the four championship races will be worth the same amount as last season.